The Royal Commission’s report of Case Study No. 12 – the response of an independent school in Perth to concerns raised about the conduct of a teacher between 1999 and 2009, was released today.
The report has found the heads of an independent school in Perth failed to attach "sufficient and correct significance" to reports made about a teacher’s inappropriate and grooming behaviours.
Known as YJ, the offending teacher was employed at the school from 1985 to 2009, before being convicted in 2010 of 13 charges of indecent dealing with a child under 13.
The report of Case Study no. 12, follows a public hearing into the matter in May last year.
The hearing heard evidence from a former student abused by YJ, the student’s mother and three teachers who made complaints about YJ, an expert witness and a number of institutional witnesses.
The report notes that several detailed complaints were made against YJ over six years including concerns that he was seen frequently touching and patting boys on the bottom or putting his arms around them, that he had rested his hand on the inside thigh of a boy who was sitting on his knee and would give lollies to ‘favourite’ boys after they had completed jobs for him.
Despite the complaints, the then heads of the school did not seek sufficient external advice, make inquiries of the named children, or manage the offending teacher’s behaviour.
The report found that the lack of training and policies in child protection at the school contributed to the failure of the then heads of the school to attach sufficient and correct significance to the reports and concerns raised about the inappropriate conduct of the offending teacher.
Until 2004, there was no dedicated child protection policy in place and from 2004 – 2009 the child protection policies in place were deficient as they contained no reference to grooming behaviours, how they may be detected and when they should be reported.
The school accepts that had sufficient and correct significance been attached to the reports and concerns when they were raised, their response would have been different and mitigated the risk of the offending teacher sexually abusing students.
The report also notes that the school’s environment was not conducive to the reporting of sexual abuse or inappropriate behaviour.
School staff (and one parent) were not aware of any written policies or guidance on procedures relating to reporting. Further, staff received limited or no training or education in understanding indicators of child sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour, nor how to report them.
In addition to examining the school’s response to concerns about the teacher and its systems, policies and procedures, this case study also examined the degree of involvement of the State of Western Australia with independent schools through the independent school registration process.
The report states that a clearly enunciated and sufficiently detailed stand-alone child protection standard should be introduced for registration of non government schools and should include grooming behaviours.
It also notes that the Registration Standards should clearly state that an allegation of sexual abuse against a student is a critical and emergency incident that should be reported to the department.
Further, a school should be required to report to the department where a staff member has received a formal warning for grooming behaviour.
Read the full report.